Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nycole Turmel

Like all the other members of the Canadian political chattering classes, I thought I would add my opinion on "l'affaire Trumel".

Ultimately the problem in Quebec comes from the intersection of Quebec provincial politics and federal politics.   Quebec has been divided, defacto, into a federalist side and a nationalist side since 1936.   To be be a federalist in Quebec has meant you have to be a Liberal.   Just look at the fact that everyone expected Jean Charest to become a Liberal to run in Quebec provincially.   You have a former conservative national leader as the Liberal premier in Quebec.

If you are on the left in Quebec, the options are really limited.  You can be a member of the Parti Quebecois or Solidaire Quebec.   If you are a New Democrat, the last four elections your party has not been on the ballot at all.   The NDP of Quebec ceased to exist after the 1994 election.

The odd situation you have in Quebec is that left means nationalist and right means federalist.   This has meant a large portion of the population is homeless.   Right of centre nationalist, the old Bleus. are not really at home with the Parti Quebecois.  At the same time, the left of centre that believes in a Canadian state is really homeless.  Quebec really needs four major parties.   The ADQ answered the need on the right, Quebec Solidaire has not answered it on the left.

I am not at all surprised that Nycole Turmel was a member of the Bloc and of QS.  Honestly, if she wanted to active politically in Quebec, what other choice did she have?   This is woman that was involved with the NDP when the party was nothing in Quebec.

Many people in Quebec have supported the PQ but did not support independence.   In the 1980 referendum Yes just scrapped over 40%, a year later the PQ was elected with 49.3% of the vote.  In 1994, the ADQ and PQ took 51.2% of the vote but then lost the referendum a year later.

How about Thomas Mulcair?  He was a provincial Liberal cabinet minister under Jean Charest.   The shift from a right wing Liberal party to a left wing federal NDP is a much bigger jump than the one Nycole Turmel has made.

Nycole Turmel should be judged on how she works as interim leader of the NDP and not crucified for having been a member of a different party in the past.   I am certain she is not alone, I would be very surprised if there were not a lot more Quebec NDP MPs that are members of QS or the PQ provincially.   The question for them is do they support a united Canada or not.  Nycole Turmel has made it clear that she does.

Meanwhile, the national NDP should work quickly to create a provincial NDP in Quebec.   There is a strong pent up desire for something different in Quebec at the moment.  No party is polling much above the low 30s.  There is a time and place for a pragmatic left of centre party that supports Quebec remaining in Canada.  With 59 MPs in Quebec and Jack Layton, the Orange Crush could possibly prevail in a province where the most popular current option is none of the above.
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